The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published a new report about a bug easily caught from contaminated pools in the summer months. The issued warning concerns Cryptosporidiosis or “Crypto”, a disease caused by a parasite that can live in the intestines of humans and other animals, leading to diarrhea.
Outbreaks of the disease have increased, on average, by 13 percent each year, according to data from 2009-2017. The report notes that during that eight-year period, there were 444 outbreaks and 7,465 confirmed cases. A total of 287 people had to be taken to hospital, while one person sadly died from the disease.
The report estimates that 35 percent of these outbreaks were linked to pools, paddling pools, and water parks. About 15 percent were linked to contact with cattle, especially newborn calves. Meanwhile, 13 percent of cases were linked to infected people in childcare settings, and 3 percent resulted from drinking raw milk or apple cider. The remaining third of infections were caught in unknown settings.
“Young children can get seriously sick and easily spread Crypto," Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, said in a statement. "They don’t know how to use the toilet and wash their hands, or are just learning how. But we as parents can take steps to help keep our kids healthy in the water, around animals, and in childcare.”
Crypto is a tough adversary. The parasite has a strong outer shell and can survive for days in chlorinated water. It is also very aggressive – just a few specimens can cause the disease, but millions can be found lurking in poop. The diarrhea the parasite causes can be debilitating and lasts up to three weeks.
If you or your child has diarrhea, the CDC asks that you stay away from water parks and swimming pools. It's also important to avoid swallowing pool water while swimming. If kids are feeling sick they should be kept at home and away from childcare facilities. And if you come into contact with animals, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and leave shoes worn in such environments outside the house. If you drink cider or milk, buy pasteurized products. It's not just Crypto, unpasteurized produce can harbor many other germs too.